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Autoimmunity, MS, and Lyme Disease

ms autoimmunity lyme disease myelin sheathLyme disease advocates have questioned the aetiology of Multiple Sclerosis and other conditions attributed to autoimmunity. Lyme disease, and MS, along with Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), polymyalgia rheumatica, and lupus, have all been found to respond to antibiotic treatment in a number of patients, with Lyme disease cured by antibiotic treatment in almost all cases, suggesting that such patients have an undiagnosed infection which may be at the root of some of their symptoms. Whether infection with bacteria such as Borrelia was instrumental in the pathology of their autoimmune condition, or whether the patients are misdiagnosed or suffering an exacerbation of symptoms due to coincidental infection is not clear.

Dangerous Medication for Misdiagnosed MS

What is disturbing in many cases is that patients may be in receipt of medications which compromise their ability to fight infections such as Lyme disease in order to try to control what is considered an autoimmune reaction. Drugs such as methotrexate, prednisone, and Cytoxin may be administered over the long-term to manage a patient’s symptoms when a short course of antibiotics may be all that is required to treat an undiagnosed infection. Clearly not all cases of MS, CFS (ME), or lupus are actually misdiagnosed Lyme disease but there does appear to be a reluctance to provide rigorous testing for patients, possibly due to poor understanding by many medical doctors who have not received adequate training on the bacterial infection.

Molecular Mimicry and MS

The possibility that Lyme disease is involved in the development of an autoimmune condition such as MS through molecular mimicry was investigated by Martin (et al, 2001) in an NIH-sponsored study. The researchers looked at the way that individual immune system cells (T cells) react to antigens, such as Borrelia burgdorferi, and how these reactions can involve cross-reactivity where the body incorrectly identifies its own proteins as foreign invaders. Martin, et al, concluded that there was firm evidence to support the basic principles of cross-recognition, the significance of such immune system dysfunction in MS, and Lyme disease as a possible antigen at the root of the molecular mimicry.

Continue Reading –> Lyme Disease and MS – A Shared Bacterial Cause?

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